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Irish austerity cuts: Your views

Image caption Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is under increasing pressure as he unveils a raft of cuts

The Irish government has unveiled a range of tough austerity measures designed to help solve the country's debt crisis.

Among the spending cuts and tax rises are a reduction in the minimum wage, a new property tax and thousands of public sector job cuts.

The four-year plan is designed to save the state 15bn euros ($20bn; £13bn). Here is a selection of comments reacting to the measures:

Jane O'Sullivan, 26, health worker in Portlaoise, Ireland

"They say they are cutting the unemployment benefit to encourage people to seek work, but I don't see how it will help - there are absolutely no jobs out there.

My husband is a builder and hasn't had a job for five years.

He has applied for anything he can find, supermarket, cleaning jobs but there are just huge amounts of people looking for jobs.

And the unemployment figures don't include the people who are on courses set up by the government to get them back to work.

Also, what else are they going to cut? Here in Ireland there is no proper transport or health anyway. Nothing works here. They will be cutting a health service that is already diabolical.

I've got children and if they are sick I will pay for private care because if I wait for the health service I will have to end up waiting forever.

The situation is so bad that if you are unemployed, as I am, the private health services will give you a discount. They know the service is bad.

I am a health service worker and only get the occasional job when I get it.

I know nurses here who only get four night shifts a month and end up taking 1,600 euros home. That isn't right.

And now they want to tax people with local income and reduce the minimum wage, which will only affect the most vulnerable people."

John Tierney, 65, chartered accountant in Portroe, Ireland

"The general outline of the four-year plan has been reasonably well flagged.

Frankly, the government didn't have a great deal of flexibility - we have a swollen public sector and inflated social benefits that were crying out to be reformed.

The plan to reduce public service staff levels by 25,000 is very welcome - but way overdue. Other adjustments to public service costs such as reduction in entry level salaries and pension benefits for retirees are also necessary

The reduction in the minimum wage and the review of restrictive labour contracts and the reduction of the entry point to the tax system by €3,000 to €15,300 is necessary, as we have to widen the tax base.

So what will all this 'cost' me personally? Difficult to say until the budget, but it is unlikely to be less than 3,000 euros. This on top of last year's Income Levy and PRSI adjustments, so the combined impact could be about 7,000 euros.

This is real pain, and is very hard to take when literally nobody (developers, bankers, politicians) has been held accountable for this mess.

However we have to solve this problem and pull together - perhaps we can deal with the culprits later.

I think the plan is reasonably fair in its distribution of 'pain', and hopefully the better off will bear the biggest impact."

Paula Walker, 40, Craughwell, County Galwya

I am a 40-year-old parent with a disabled partner. I started my own dog food business two months ago due to rising costs of dog food here.

These measures are all for the future which myself and many others like us will put to the back of our minds.

No one actually knows by how much money Ireland is in debt, some analysts are saying over 300bn euros.

So everything is being brushed under the carpet, it will be whitewashed by the politicians and everyone will think its not that bad.

I don't see it affecting us properly until the VAT increase comes in and the decrease in the minimum wage come into effect.

The VAT affects me as a business person as I have to pass it on to my customers who if their wages are decreased cant afford to buy from me. As a consumer I will do what every other person will do: shop in the North.

What will affect everyone in this country is the passing of the budget and this plan. The country will end up defaulting on any loan because most of the money raised will pay back the interest from the bail-out.

Why doesn't this government go back and negotiate a better deal for this country? The bail-out is only a short term solution to postponing the bankruptcy of this country.

Comments sent by e-mail

Back to the Third World we go then. Rural Ireland will suffer hugely from these cuts, more so than those in Dublin. Sean Harkin, Inishowen, County Donegal

Whilst reports are saying the cuts aren't as bad as what people were expecting, what I would like to know is how much of the benefits that Irish politicians currently receive, which are far too many and above the global standard, are going to be reduced or abolished? Are they still going to be entitled to the multiple pensions that they receive? This is what should be slashed. Francis Finan, Sligo

The plan seems fair given the circumstances. Yes, my taxes will increase, but we benefited during the boom and now it's time for us to contribute to the resurrection of our economy. The unions will be unhappy, the opposition will feign to be unhappy but it's easy to criticise when you don't have to make the tough decisions. While not a supporter of our government I accept the reality of where we are at. I just want to get back to work and put this whole sorry episode behind us. Aidan Connolly, Dublin

These measures are designed to protect that portion of society who through their mismanagement of the economy and the country's finances have created the problem in the first place. Increasing retail taxes and lowering minimum wage will punish the working members of society. Instead, a reduction in the layers of middle-management, created as a cure-all to stem unemployment over the past 10 years, would be a start. There is little left to manage so why retain them. Ian Magee in Ballyduff Upper, County Waterford

These cuts are completely necessary in our current fiscal situation, but it should never have reached this position, and although the government will have to pass a budget and these measures before they call an election, they have still acted completely irresponsibly. Simon, Sligo

This document is not in the best interests of the country. It is only in the best interests of the ministers. They believe this will help us. I believe it's only there to help them. The loan we get from IMF and the ECB will be wasted, like all the other money the government has wasted. These politicians have no idea how to run a playschool, never mind a country, and we suffer for it. Peter, Galway

I'm saddened by these cuts. They cut the wages of the poorest, without balancing it up at the other end. They quadruple education fees, with no change to capital taxes. As somebody who will probably have to drop out of college next year, I feel robbed by a party who misappropriated the funds of, and responsibilities to, this country over the last ten years. Daniel Lynch, Dublin

Tweets

Limerickman tweets: Cowen pledged to reduce unemployment below 10% by 2014. He won't be in politics next week never mind in 2014. Read Limerickman's tweets

Mcnerneyd tweets: While I don't like paying more tax, the pain of the increases in the seem weak. 2006 wasn't that bad. Read mcnerneyd's tweets

SadhbhWalshe tweets: Irish people will protest these austerity budget cuts and look for a better way in Dublin tomorrow. Read SadhbhWalshe's tweets

Tony_sutton tweets: Ouch. VAT in Ireland to rise from 21% to 22% in 2013, then 23% in 2014. Read Tony_sutton's tweets

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